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The new Nintendo console, officially named the Wii U is certainly dividing the gaming community in terms of opinions on the console myself included. Nintendo fans are naturally, quick to term the console awesome while some fan boys of other consoles are quick to judge themselves. The rest of us are somewhere in between. I’m personally sceptical but curious about the new console never the less.

The Name

For a while now, various people from Nintendo have been making the claim their aim with the successor to the Wii was to bring back the hardcore gamers to the Nintendo community, or in other words bridge the core and casual gamer market. I’m someone who desperately wants to love Nintendo again. I mean, why not? I have fond memories playing their first three consoles (NES, SNES and N64) and I’d love for Nintendo to go back to that. I should preface that I also own a Wii as well but I no longer play it (where as I’ll gladly play games on those other systems). There’s a lot to be said about first impressions and the names of products but I think Nintendo have dropped the ball here a little.

The Wii got a lot of flak from the gaming community (in my experience anyway) for it’s name irregardless of it’s intended meaning but you can forgive them as it was intended as a casual gamer’s console anyway. The Wii U (In particular the U) does have a meaning behind it also but it’s hard to take the name seriously. Before the announce Project Cafe and Wii 2 were the names assigned by the media to the new console and even they were better than ‘Wii U’ in all honesty.

The Nintendo Marketing team might just be trying to outdo themselves in terms of silly names, if that’s the case, they’ve succeeded. So as far as I’m concerned in their aim to bridge the gap between ‘core’ and ‘casual’ gamers they’ve dropped the ball. But Dean, what would you call the Wii U if you were in charge of naming it? Oh I dunno, I’d probably go with something as simple as ‘Nintendo’. Hell, even the NES U would sound better. Throw an olive branch to the Nintendo gamers of old and keep your newer casual gamer crowd happy too.

Darksiders 2 Wii U graphics

The Graphics

I’ve seen a few game demos now on the Wii U and I can say that the graphics are improved and possibly on par with the current generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft. When targeting HD (high definition) graphics for the console that was certainly the benchmark. If you’ve played either the Playstation 3 or the Xbox 360, there’s nothing really to write home about here but if your current gen gaming has been exclusive to the Wii, then you’ll be able to appreciate the graphical improvements just that little more.

On a potentially sour note though, there were rumours flying around about the Wii U cross platform titles on display at E3. Head honcho Reggie Fils-Amie then told Game Trailers that the sizzle reel of new games shown were not actually from the Wii U but instead the footage was taken from the Xbox 3 and Playstation 3 versions. When Reggie was asked if that was the case, he replied, “Absolutely, because we’re talking a year away from when the console will launch.”

A fair point? Perhaps, certainly in that they are still some way off the console launch but what’s concerning is not so much that they had nothing to show off, rather they substituted other consoles to show what the Wii U was capable of. At least as far as cross platform titles are concerned anyway.

Nintendo Wii U Controller

The Controller

This is arguably and likely intended to be, the biggest talking point about the Wii U. My first impressions of the Wii U’s controller were “Oooooh” and “What the fuck”. It looks pretty and if you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was a handheld but on the other hand it looks a bit big and unwieldy (compared to other consoles’ controllers). I’m going to do this part a little different from the rest and go with what I know about the controller so far in bullet point form with response.

  • You will only be able to use one Wii U controller with one Wii U console. For additional players, you will be required to have Wii Remote Plus controllers on hand. My opinion? Definitely a bad point and something Nintendo may want to look at fixing sooner rather than later.
  • Play on the TV or on the controller’s touch screen. My opinion? If you’ve got kids or like to multi-task then this is definitely a cool thing (even if you don’t, it still is IMO). The controller will double effectively as a handheld allowing you to play and watch TV at the same time.
  • The Touch Screen itself. Will let you interact with games in new waves, however it isn’t multi-touch (where as the PS Vita is, I believe) and as such is extremely limiting. Another point Nintendo might want to rectify at some point.
  • Draw on the controller (screen). Using a stylus (or stylus like object) you can draw on the controller’s touch screen and have your creations appear on the TV. I’m sure Nintendo will find various applications in games for this and if you are the artistic type, great.
  • Play on the new controller. Play games like of the tic tac toe ilk on the controller’s touch screen. My opinion? Doesn’t really impress me and because of the lack of multi-touch I can’t see many applications for this that will equate to console sales.
  • Motion to control. Allows you to zoom in part of the screen with it displayed on the controller’s touch screen. I think it’s pretty cool and can have some very interesting applications in games.
  • Get new views. The examples of this I have seen are with Wii Golf by placing the Wii U controller on the ground you can use it like a tee and see the golf ball on it’s tee via the touch screen and for Zelda, with your inventory menu visible. Again, a cool idea with potential.
  • Make video calls. I don’t know much about this but I assume it’s only to other Wii U controllers. Not a big selling point for me, as it’s limiting and I could always just pick up my cell phone if necessary.

Online Services

There’s not really a whole lot to write about right now when it comes to this. No real details have been released on what the Wii U’s online capabilities will be like apart from Nintendo possibly getting rid of friend codes.

Conclusion

As I said earlier on the piece, I’m both sceptical and curious about this new console. From what I’ve seen it has some interesting ideas and potential (thanks largely in part to it’s controller) but some drawbacks (again, thanks in part to it’s controller). I can’t shake the feeling that it’s definitely still geared more towards casual gamers and that Nintendo are just blowing smoke about ‘bridging the gap’. Whether or not that is actually the case, we may not find out until we start to see third party titles (cross platform in particular) appear for the Wii U instead of seeing them being run on other consoles.

I’ve not seen anything that really makes me want to save up to be able to buy it (and it’s likely to have a more hefty price tag than the Wii did if rumours are to be believed) so I will adopt a wait and see approach. Because I am curious however, I can’t wait to get my hands on the new console to test and hopefully that will be possible later on in the year at the EBGames Expo in Australia. Fingers crossed.

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